Kenyans will tomorrow morning join the world in watching the biggest night in film as top Hollywood stars attend the 89th edition of the Academy Awards in California starting Monday 4.30 am East African time (tonight in America).
The awards, commonly known as the Oscars, are followed keenly across the globe for the final list of winners, trend-setting fashion, activism-packed speeches and razzmatazz that dominates headlines for days after the event.
The Wall Street Journal predicts that this year, the awards to be hosted by TV presenter-cum-comedian Jimmy Kimmel may be the “best-dressed” platform for protests against US President Donald Trump, whose list of haters seems to be increasing every other day with the decisions he has made since taking over the White House on January 20.
Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o turned heads during last year’s Oscars edition with her $150,000 (Sh15.5 million) Calvin Klein dress that was said to have been custom-made and studded with 6,000 natural white pearls.
After the event, the dress was reportedly stolen after Lupita left her hotel room. But it was later recovered.
At the red carpet, she told the Associated Press that she was “just wearing her diamonds and pearls” as a tribute to musician Prince.
Lupita, who won an Oscar in 2014 as the best supporting actress in 12 Years a Slave, may hit the red carpet with a more awe-drawing dress this year as various designers have been seeking her endorsement through donning their outfits.
Fashion expert Carol Odero hopes there will be more splendour because this year’s Oscars will feature more black actors and actresses.
“There will be more black women on the red carpet this year. For that reason alone I would love to see what kind of hair, especially natural hair women like Janelle Monae and Viola Davis will wear,” Ms Odero told the Sunday Nation yesterday.
“I will be interested in which shades of makeup, skincare and even nail polish looks they will wear and how these will set trend for women of colour,” she added.
The fashion columnist for Lifestyle Magazine hopes the event will expose a newer, younger crop of designers.
After protests that last year’s Oscars marginalised black people, which led to the hashtag #OscarSoWhite, six actors and actresses are in the list of nominees this year.
“There is greater opportunity for risk taking this year with couture. Because there is much to celebrate with the sharp increase of African-American nominees, I would be disappointed if we were not at least introduced to a few formerly unknown or emerging black designers,” said Ms Odero.
Mr Bob Nyanja, a renowned Kenyan producer who has been in the film industry since 1997, said he will wake up early to watch the Oscars because he is interested in seeing how it is organised.
“I want to see who is getting awarded, and for what; who’s getting recognised and why. I’m always impressed by the way the show is produced as well,” said Mr Nyanja, the director and producer of Cinematics Kenya.
In Mr Nyanja’s view, the biggest lesson that Kenyans should draw from the Oscars is how business acumen is celebrated.
“Back when I did my own film, and when I was looking at the Oscars, I realised that it’s not just a celebration of talents. The big thing that is being celebrated there is business and business success,” he said.
Mr Nyanja gained popularity for directing The Rugged Priest, Malooned! and The Captain of Nakara.
“People are turning around real money, turning around careers and professionals. But here in Kenya and East Africa in general, we are far off. And the Oscars remind me that we really need to do the right things in order to create a film industry so that we can then get a chance to celebrate business success, because that’s really what the Oscars are all about.
“It’s people parading themselves and going to the bank and counting their monies. It’s not just people who are getting trophies and objects to keep,” he said.